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downsmail.co.uk


We all have a part to play this winter


SUMMER feels like it is well and truly over. And with the chill wind has come the increase in Coronavirus cases that we knew would likely come our way this winter. As in the spring, this wave of Coronavirus has hit countries in continental Europe rst, particularly Spain and France. There, we are seeing rising cases sadly leading to full hospitals and more deaths.


Further North in the UK, many areas have had household mixing bans in place for several weeks now, and they too are seeing rising hospitalisations.


But the picture now is of rising rates across the country. That’s why we needed to act last month and bring in new national measures to control the virus. The rule of six and the 10pm curfew will not be easy, but we needed to take action to stop the virus from spreading. Crucially, we need to break the chain of infections that risks younger, healthier people passing the virus to more vulnerable people. With a contagious virus, everyone’s actions


matter. Each one of us has a part to play in helping to protect the most vulnerable people. The latest measures have struck a balance


between keeping our country going, and keeping Covid-19 under control. This is particularly vital for schools and businesses. We can’t keep the dust sheets over our economy indenitely. We need to get people back to work. The public services that we depend on during this pandemic, not least our health service, depend on a thriving economy.


By Helen Whately MP for


Faversham and Mid-Kent


The chancellor has come forward with new measures to help businesses and jobs as we enter the next phase in our ght against the virus. Our Job Support Scheme will help as many people back to work as possible. And where those jobs are not viable, we will provide training and support to get people into parts of the economy that are growing. The creativity and dynamism of businesses in Kent will be needed more than ever. While this continues to be a difficult time, there are reasons to be optimistic. I have seen for myself in the Department for Health and Social Care, the hard work that was put in over the summer to increase our testing and tracing capacity, which includes the roll out of the NHS Covid-19 app. If you haven’t downloaded the app yet please join the millions who have. Along with social distancing, this is a way you can play your part in controlling the virus. This may feel like a long winter, but we will get through it together.


Act to beat hare coursing


NOT everyone is aware of hare coursing, but it is a serious crime which blights the lives of farmers and inflicts much cruelty on the animals involved. At this time of year we see a rise in incidents


across Maidstone borough and the Weald, fol- lowing harvest, usually occurring at dawn or dusk. The Country Land and Business Association


(CLA) is updating an action plan that outlines how farmers, landowners, the police and Govern- ment can bring those involved to justice. Hare coursers use dogs to chase, catch and kill


hares, attracting sizeable betting. It takes place without the permission of farmers, causing ex- tensive damage to land and crops. It is illegal, and those convicted face fines of up to £5,000 and having vehicles seized. Unfortunately, such convictions are rare. Data


obtained by the CLA from Kent Police for the Downs Mail shows there were just five guilty out- comes in the county between 2014 and 2018. Often, those involved in this crime are hard-


ened criminals who will not think twice about in- timidating anyone who attempts to stop them. Many farmers find themselves under siege. De- spite erecting barriers, digging miles of trenches


By Mike Sims


Communications manager for CLA South East


and locking gates, still the coursers come. The CLA, which represents rural businesses,


farmers and landowners across the area, is now calling for tailored sentencing guidelines such as vehicle seizure and compensation paid to farmers for any damage caused. The police do their best, but the coursers ap-


pear to have no respect for officers or anyone who gets in their way. Until greater deterrents are handed out, they will continue to damage farms, persecute the brown hare and intimidate the farming community without fear of punishment. Landowners and the public should report cours-


ing to the police, either through 101, or 999 if it is a crime in progress. For more information about the CLA and its


work, visit www.cla.org.uk and follow @CLA- SouthEast on Twitter.


Opinion


T ONLY takes a solitary syllable to send one local elected personage into high dudgeon after a colleague used the word “tip” in headlines for a new “domestic recycling centre. Too many negative connotations, he feels, thundering: “You, it seems to me, are only interested in stirring rather than giving out reasoned reports. To say that I am disappointed, is the understatement of the week.”


I


IGN of the times. The Mall in Maidstone will have a grotto for Father Christmas this festive season but, sadly, there’ll be no “ho ho ho” and playful banter with small kiddies. Instead, excited children will have to make do with a pre- booked “live video call to Santa”.


S


T IS with not inconsiderable sadness I hear Lesley Martin, the estimable parish councillor in Leeds, and her husband Peter are moving on. They’ve sold their home and are searching for a new, smaller place, possibly as far away as Broadstairs. Lesley wails: “The trouble is that all our friends are either dead or senile.”


I S


ULTAN of spin Andrew Metcalf, of Maxim PR, has turned Covid-19 to his


advantage. He now works from “home” in south west France at his pied a terre with the sound of next door’s chickens clucking contentedly as his backdrop.


IBERAL Democracy’s loss will soon be the hospitality industry’s gain as former Tory Nick de Wiggondene departs to help his partner run a Surrey pub. The Old Bell at Outwood dates back to 1635 and, until recently, boasted a hanging tree in the garden used to dispatch witches.


L N


EWS of Cllr de Wiggondene’s defection does make the Tories’ task


of winning power from the Lib Dems more problematic. A senior Tory source said: “Despite Lenham being wrecked with housing and unelected officers running the council by making many decisions with minimal consultation, we should trounce the Lib Dems. But never, ever under- estimate our ability to get round the keeper and blaze the ball over the bar.”


HO would be in the newspaper business just now? A sympathetic friend suggests a local rival retitles its popular “What’s On” section “What’s Off”. Such sad times.


W C


RYSTAL Palace fan news. Adding to the list of local Eagles’ fans/ punishment gluttons I can add Kent Police press officer Andy Saunders and Kent County Councillor Gary Cooke.


Chin chin! 47


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